The Scuba Mask seems to be the piece of equipment that causes divers more problems than any other kit.
When I am teaching I take time to ensure that my students understand what makes a “good fit” in a Scuba Mask and how to properly adjust a mask.
Here are some solutions to problems I have encountered over the years:
Not owning a mask
Your own mask and snorkel should be the first piece of dive equipment you purchase.
You need a mask that fits comfortably, is suitable for the shape of your face, doesn’t pressure your nose and then once you have it adjusted correctly, it stays that way. Renting a mask everytime you dive means spending time to adjust it and get it just right, if you can, or if not, you will have to suffer the “leaky mask syndrome” for your entire dive.
Go to a dive shop, try a few different styles and shapes, take advice, customise it with a slap strap (stops hair getting tangled), then adjust it properly for fit.
The Internet is not a place to buy your dive gear when you are a “newbie”, in the long run, the advice you will get from a knowledgeable dive pro has much more value to you than any monetary saving you might make.
This is one piece of gear you should not try to save money on!
Mask strap too tight
I see this all the time. The water pressure when you are underwater will keep your mask on your face even if the strap breaks, too tight on the surface means the seal will distort underwater which can lead to a leaking mask.
Your natural reaction will be to tighten even more, this has the opposite effect to what you intended.
I have loosened the straps on my students masks underwater many, many more times than I have tightened them!
If you return from a dive with a red ring around your face, your mask was definitely too tight, us old timers call it “mask face”, a sure sign of an inexperienced diver.
Mask on forehead
Forget the old wives tales of “mask on forehead in water means diver in distress” there is one good reason why you should never push your mask up onto your forehead when you surface from a dive, if a wave comes along it will get washed off your head and while you are spluttering from the water that went up your nose your mask is descending into the deep without you!
On the boat or shore, if your mask is on your forehead you will be sweating into it, this gives the inside a good coating of body oils and suntan lotion, thus preparing it nicely to fog up when you go underwater.
The place for your mask is around your neck, unless of course it is properly fitted and on your face.
Some advice on mask cleaning
You don’t need fancy (and expensive) mask defoggers or cleaners.
If your mask is brand new, or is developing an oily film then the best cleaner is regular toothpaste.
Wet the lenses, and using a regular (non gel) toothpaste rub the toothpaste onto the lens. When it squeaks, it’s clean!
For a defog liquid use baby shampoo, it does a great job and doesn’t sting your eyes. Get a small plastic bottle, mix it 50/50 with water and keep it in your dive bag.
Take care of your mask and it will serve you well for many years.
Mistakes are mere echoes from the past. Let’s not repeat them but just learn from them.